Fact of the day: 28th February

On this day in 1991 the first Gulf War ended.

The initial conflict to expel Iraqi troops from Kuwait began with an aerial bombardment on 17 January 1991. This was followed by a ground assault on 24 February. This was a decisive victory for the Coalition forces, who liberated Kuwait and advanced into Iraqi territory. The Coalition ceased their advance, and declared a cease-fire 100 hours after the ground campaign started. Aerial and ground combat was confined to Iraq, Kuwait, and areas on Saudi Arabia’s border. Iraq launched Scud missiles against Coalition military targets in Saudi Arabia and against Israel.

United Nations Security Council Resolution 687 passed in April 1991 established formal cease-fire terms. The controversies over enforcing this and subsequent resolutions would lead to the outbreak of another war 12 years later.

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Fact of the day: 27th February

On this day in 1870 the current flag of Japan is first adopted as the national flag for Japanese merchant ships.

The use of the national flag grew as Japan sought to develop an empire, and the Hinomaru was present at celebrations after victories in the First Sino-Japanese and Russo-Japanese Wars. The flag was also used in war efforts throughout the country. A Japanese propaganda film in 1934 portrayed foreign national flags as incomplete or defective with their designs, while the Japanese flag is perfect in all forms. In 1937, a group of girls from Hiroshima Prefecture showed solidarity with Japanese soldiers fighting in China during the Second Sino-Japanese War, by eating “flag meals” that consisted of an umeboshi in the middle of a bed of rice. The Hinomaru bento became the main symbol of Japan’s war mobilization and solidarity with her soldiers until the 1940s.

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Fact of the day: 26th February

On this day in 1815 Napoleon Bonaparte escaped from Elba.

After his defeat, the victors exiled him to Elba, an island of 12,000 inhabitants in the Mediterranean, 20 km (12 mi) off the Tuscan coast. They gave him sovereignty over the island and allowed him to retain his title of emperor. Napoleon attempted suicide with a pill he had carried since a near-capture by Russians on the retreat from Moscow. Its potency had weakened with age, and he survived to be exiled while his wife and son took refuge in Austria. In the first few months on Elba he created a small navy and army, developed the iron mines, and issued decrees on modern agricultural methods.

Separated from his wife and son, who had come under Austrian control, cut off from the allowance guaranteed to him by the Treaty of Fontainebleau, and aware of rumours he was about to be banished to a remote island in the Atlantic Ocean, Napoleon escaped from Elba on 26 February 1815. He landed at Golfe-Juan on the French mainland, two days late.

This period became known as the hundred days where Napoleon ruled France until June 1815.

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Napoleon returned to Paris and found that both the legislature and the people had turned violently on him. Realizing his position was untenable, he abdicated on 22 June in favour of his son. He left Paris 3 days later and settled at Josephine’s former home in Malmaison. Coalition forces swept into France soon afterward, intent on restoring Louis XVIII to the French throne.

When Napoleon got word that Prussian troops had orders to capture him dead or alive, he fled to Rochefort, intending to escape to the US. However, with British ships blocking every port to prevent his escape, Napoleon formally demanded political asylum from the British Captain Frederick Maitland on HMS Bellerophon on 15 July 1815.

Fact of the day: 25th February

On this day in 1947 the state of Prussia ceased to exist.

Prussia was a German kingdom and historic state originating out of the Duchy of Prussia and the Margraviate of Brandenburg and centered on the region of Prussia. For centuries, the House of Hohenzollern ruled Prussia, successfully expanding its size by way of an unusually well-organised and effective army. Prussia shaped the history of Germany, with its capital in Berlin after 1451. In 1871, German states united in creating the German Empire under Prussian leadership. In November 1918, the monarchies were abolished and the nobility lost its political power. Prussia was effectively abolished in 1932, and officially abolished in 1947.

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Fact of the day: 24th February

On this day in 1920 the Nazi party was founded.

The party emerged from the German nationalist, racist and populist Freikorps paramilitary culture, which fought against the communist uprisings in post-World War I Germany. Advocacy of a form of socialism by right-wing figures and movements in Germany became common during and after World War I, influencing Nazism.  Arthur Moeller van den Bruck of the Conservative Revolutionary movement coined the term “Third Reich”, and advocated an ideology combining the nationalism of the right and the socialism of the left. Prominent Conservative Revolutionary member Oswald Spengler’s conception of a “Prussian Socialism” influenced the Nazis.The party was created as a means to draw workers away from communism and into völkisch nationalism. Initially, Nazi political strategy focused on anti-big business, anti-bourgeois, and anti-capitalist rhetoric, although such aspects were later downplayed in order to gain the support of industrial entities, and in 1930s the party’s focus shifted to antisemitic and anti-Marxist themes.

It’s hard to believe that in the founding of this party, Adolf Hitler would rise and one day be in charge of Germany. A very poignant day.

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Say Anything…

I watched Say Anything for the first time the other night. And I actually really enjoyed it!

For those of you don’t know anything about the film, here’s a quick summary.

The film is about teenager who have just graduated High school and are about to start the rest of their lives. Lloyd Dobler (John Cusack) dreams of being a kickboxer and is madly infatuated with the smartest girl in school. Diane Court (Ione Skye) has won a fellowship to study in England. Despite her intelligence she was very socially inexperienced and was intrigued by Lloyd’s mannerisms and decided to take a chance on him.

Through the summer the relationship develops and it’s clear Diane is falling for Lloyd. Unfortunately though, Diane has other concerns. Her father (John Mahoney – Martin/Frasier’s dad in Frasier) is under investigation by the IRS and it turns out that he has been committing  many tax violations. Add in the fact that Diane feels guilty for not spending enough time with her father and the fact that he does not approve of Lloyd and, it sounds like every typical teenage experience.

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Lloyd ultimately wins Diane’s heart before the summer’s end, and supports her emotionally after her father’s conviction and incarceration. The film ends with Lloyd escorting the aviophobic Diane on her flight to England.

The reason I liked this film was because it was so honest. There was no games, no lying or leaving someone waiting…to an extent. It was refreshing to see a male character actually act like a man, rather than a typical guy. A line that is used in the film, ‘Don’t be a guy. Be a man.’

Personally I think boys now focus from a young age about ‘being one of the boys.’ They want to have a laugh and look like they don’t care, when they do. Growing up with that, it’s not nice. It’s confusing, you never know where you stand and, eventually you stop being interested.

The other thing I liked about this film was when the two main characters slept together for the first time. Firstly, it was nice that it wasn’t made out to be a big deal in the film. There was no massive lead up to it and then several sex scenes. It happened and then the story continued.

Secondly, after it happened, Lloyd was the one worrying. It was nice to see it from that point of view. He then wrote her a letter. Now I don’t know about other girls, but if I had just had my first sexual experience and that person wrote me a letter, pretty certain I’d be putty in their hands.

It was a surprisingly good film and fills you with hope that one day all guys will be real men like Lloyd.

Fact of the day: 23rd February

On this day in 1896 the Tootsie Roll was invented. Who knew it was that old?!

Tootsie is a chocolate candy that has been manufactured in the United States since 1896. The manufacturer, Tootsie Roll Industries, is based in Chicago, Illinois.

It was the first penny candy to be individually wrapped.

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In 1896 its founder Leo Hirshfeld, an Austrian immigrant to the United States of America, started his candy business in a small shop located in New York City. He wanted a chewy candy that would not melt easily in the heat, and would be an economical artificial alternative to traditional chocolates.[citation needed] He named the candy after the nickname of his daughter, Clara “Tootsie” Hirschfeld. By 1905, production moved to a five-story factory. In 1917, the name of the company was changed to The Sweets Company of America, and the business became a listed company in 1922. In 1931, the Tootsie Pop—a lollipop with Tootsie Roll filling—was invented. Its low price made it popular in the Depression era. During World War II, Tootsie Rolls became a standard part of American soldiers’ field rations, due to the hardiness of the candy under a variety of environmental conditions.